BC Legislature
(File photo)

A new law to protect government employees who report wrongdoings in the workplace just came into effect in British Columbia.

The Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) went into force as of December 1st, protecting current and former government employees against retaliation for reporting concerns.

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“This legislation protects whistleblowers if they speak up and requires that any investigation into allegations of serious wrongdoing will be administratively fair,” said Attorney General, David Eby, in a statement.

“It supports high standards of integrity and accountability in our public service, which British Columbians expect and deserve.”

PIDA safeguards whistleblowers against reprisals like demotion or termination if they report concerns confidentially to designated officers in their organizations or to the Office of the Ombudsperson.

The act also ensures that those under investigation are treated fairly, and requires ministries and the ombudsperson to report the number of disclosures they receive per year and the results of their investigations, in a bid to foster transparency.

These new protections currently apply to employees and former employees of all government ministries, including political staff and employees in the independent offices of the legislature.

Over the next five years, the jurisdiction of the act will be expanded to include workers in the public sector such as schools, universities, Crown corporations and health authorities.

PIDA was introduced last year as a result of a 2017 report from the ombudsperson which outlined the investigation of the wrongful termination of several Health Canada employees.

The report made 41 recommendations to prevent a similar incident in the future, and according to the Ministry of Attorney General, all of these have been accepted by the government.